The HTML source for my (i.e., this) web site lives in a
Git repository on my local workstation.
This page describes how I set things up so that I can make changes live
by running just "
git push web".
The one-line summary:
repository that has a detached work tree, and a
that runs "
git checkout -f".
The local repository
It doesn't really matter how the local repository is set up, but for the
sake of argument, let's suppose you're starting one from scratch.
$ mkdir website && cd website
$ git init
Initialized empty Git repository in /home/ams/website/.git/
$ echo 'Hello, world!' > index.html
$ git add index.html
$ git commit -q -m "The humble beginnings of my web site."
Anyway, however you got there, you have a repository whose contents you
want to turn into a web site.
The remote repository
I assume that the web site will live on a server to which you have ssh
access, and that things are set up so that you can ssh to it without
having to type a password (i.e., that your public key is in
~/.ssh/authorized_keys and you are running
On the server, we create a new repository to mirror the local one.
$ mkdir website.git && cd website.git
$ git init --bare
Initialized empty Git repository in /home/ams/website.git/
Then we define (and enable) a post-receive hook that checks out the
latest tree into the web server's DocumentRoot (this directory must
exist; Git will not create it for you):
$ mkdir /var/www/www.example.org
$ cat > hooks/post-receive
GIT_WORK_TREE=/var/www/www.example.org git checkout -f
$ chmod +x hooks/post-receive
Note: earlier versions of this howto depended on setting the git config
variables core.worktree to the target directory, core.bare to false, and
receive.denycurrentbranch to ignore. But these changes are not needed if
you use GIT_WORK_TREE (which didn't work when I first wrote the howto),
and the remote repository can remain bare.
Back on the workstation, we define a name for the remote mirror, and
then mirror to it, creating a new "
master" branch there.
$ git remote add web ssh://server.example.org/home/ams/website.git
$ git push web +master:refs/heads/master
On the server,
/var/www/www.example.org should now contain
a copy of your files, independent of any
The update process
Nothing could be simpler. In the local repository, just run
$ git push web
This will transfer any new commits to the remote repository, where the
post-receive hook will immediately update the
DocumentRoot for you.
(This is more convenient than defining your workstation as a remote on
the server, and running "
git pull" by hand or from a cron
job, and it doesn't require your workstation to be accessible by ssh.)
A few more things bear mentioning.
First, the work tree (
/var/www/www.example.org above) must
be writable by the user who runs the hook (or the user needs sudo access
to run git checkout -f, or something similar).
Also, the work tree does not need to correspond exactly to your
DocumentRoot. Your repository may represent only a
subdirectory of it, or even contain it as a subdirectory.
In the work tree, you will need to set the environment variable
GIT_DIR to the path to
website.git before you
can run any git commands (e.g. "
receive.denycurrentbranch to "
on the server eliminates a warning issued by recent versions of git when
you push an update to a checked-out branch on the server. (Thanks to
Miklos Vajna for pointing this out.)
You can push to more than one remote repository by adding more URLs
[remote "web"] section in your
url = ssh://server.example.org/home/ams/website.git
url = ssh://other.example.org/home/foo/website.git
There are also other hooks. See
for details. For example, you could use
accept or deny a push based on the results of an
HTML validator. Or you could do
more work in the
post-receive hook (such as send email to
I wrote this after reading Daniel Miessler's piece on
Using Git to maintain your website (no longer available). He pushes to a
bare repository on the server and pulls changes into a second clone that
is used as the DocumentRoot. My implementation has fewer moving parts,
and keeps .git separate from the DocumentRoot.
Note: some people have reported that this strategy doesn't work under
git 220.127.116.11 (because the
git checkout -f fails). I know
it does work with 1.6.x. I haven't investigated further.
These are links to articles that readers have sent me. I have glanced at
them before linking, but I haven't tried out the instructions myself.
Questions and suggestions are welcome.